STRONG START: The CLCF 12-year-old all-stars pose for a photo at the New England regional, where they won their first two games.
Many of the members of the CLCF 12-year-old all-star team went to regionals as 9-year-olds in 2009 and 11-year-olds in 2011.
But those two trips were nothing like this one.
After going 0-2 back in 2009 and 1-2 last year, CLCF is taking a new path at the 12-year-old New England Regional this season. The Cranston club won its first two games, including one over defending champion New Town, Conn., to earn a spot in Tuesday’s winners’ bracket final.
Results of that game were unavailable at press time, but regardless of the outcome, it’s already been an impressive run for the Cranston stars.
“We’ve never done this,” said manager Frank DiLanna. “We went two and out when the kids were 9 and we went 1-2 last year. We’re 2-0 and we’re playing well.”
CLCF opened the tournament with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Maine state champion Andy Valley. Cranston’s Brett Traficante and Maine’s Ben Bernier were locked in a pitcher’s duel, but CLCF broke through with a run in the third inning. Logan Pacheco singled, stole second and scored on a two-out double by Kennsey Marte.
Cranston added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. With Marte on in relief, Maine scratched a run across in the sixth, but Marte induced a fly-out to Pacheco in center field to end the game. CLCF also got a great catch in right field by Kyle Dutra.
The win set up a meeting with New Town, an old nemesis. The Connecticut club beat CLCF at the 2009 and 2011 regionals and was shooting for a second consecutive regional title.
CLCF had other ideas.
Logan Pacheco led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run and CLCF really never looked back. It went on to a 12-2 mercy-rule victory.
“That got us going,” DiLanna said. “We scored four runs in the first inning and they could never get back into it. Right off the bat, we took it to them.”
John DeRouin added a three-run homer for CLCF, the first of his career. Like Pachecho’s blast, DeRouin’s shot was a spark as well.
“That got everybody fired up,” DiLanna said.
Traficante, Derek DiLanna, Juan Gonzalez, Zach Minicucci, Mark DeSimone and Charlie Amarante all added hits for Cranston in the lopsided win.
The pitching was also strong. Marte went four innings and held the strong Connecticut team in check. Pacheco pitched the fifth inning, and CLCF invoked the mercy rule on a Matt Beyer RBI single.
The victory moved CLCF into the winners’ bracket final, where it was scheduled to play Burlington, Mass.
CLCF 9’s and 11’s playing well
The CLCF 9-year-old all-star team and 11-year-old all-star team opened state tournament play over the weekend and quickly moved to the doorstep of a state championship.
The 9-year-old squad started the tournament with a bang, winning a 6-5 thriller over West Warwick on Saturday. Then on Sunday, the Cranston squad hit the gas pedal as it rolled over Darlington 14-0 in a mercy-rule shortened game.
CLCF was scheduled to play for the title on Tuesday, with results unavailable at press time.
The CLCF 11’s also got off to a strong start with a 25-3 victory over Apponaug in the first round. The team followed that up with an 11-3 win over host West Warwick, earning a spot in Wednesday’s championship. Results of that game were also unavailable at press time.
Pick up next week’s Herald for continuing coverage of CLCF baseball.